Coaching and the Gospel

22 Oct


This is my second year coaching wrestling at our local high school.  I’ve been blessed to be able to do this between my work at the church and my studies, and God has used it to teach me in many ways.  I wanted to share a few of them with you:

1. Showing extraordinary grace reminds me of the grace shown to me

Any coach knows that his job involves showing a great deal of patience, perseverance, endurance, and grace.  Coaching high school wrestling has given me opportunities to show students grace and kindness when I would otherwise be warranted in disciplining them.  For sure, this has led to some pushing the limits and using such grace as a means for further disobedience and misconduct, but others have learned from these experiences and sought to improve (whether it be academically, behaviorally, or athletically).  Don’t get me wrong, there are times in which disciplinary action is required, but showing grace can have a very powerful impact.

All of this reminds me of the grace of God, delivered to us in the person and work of Jesus Christ.  That God would promise to redeem a sinful, rebellious people, and then actually do so by punishing his only Son on their behalf is an expression of tremendous grace!  And just as  the wrestlers have responded to my grace towards them in different ways, so too do we when it comes to God’s grace.  For some of us, we have repented of our sin and trusted wholeheartedly in the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and for others, they continue to presume upon the riches of God’s kindness, building up wrath for themselves in the day of judgment (Rom. 2:4-5).

2. I am serving the Lord in helping shape these young men’s character

God has sovereignly placed his sons and daughters in specific places for specific purposes. Sometimes these purposes are unknown to us, while other times, it is blatantly obvious.  Colossians 3:23 states that we are to “work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.”  In coaching, I have the opportunity to serve the Lord as a means of common grace towards these students.  I get the opportunity to help shape their character and the direction they will go in the future.

We have a saying in the wrestling room that this sport doesn’t build character, but rather reveals it.  And yet, I cannot help but believe that for some of these young men, these four years (or less) of wrestling contribute greatly to the work ethic and character they will carry with them into college and/or their vocation.  It is a privilege and joy to be a part of this.

3. High school students are in desperate need for Christ and biblical truth

One afternoon, as we were finishing up in the locker room, one of our wrestlers came up to me and asked me for a Bible.  The next day, I brought one for him and he started reading it, beginning at Genesis 1.   Occasionally, he would stop me to let me know where he was in it, and how his reading was going.

On another day, a different wrestler came up to ask me my thoughts on the end of the world.  I told him that I’m not concerned about when it comes or how it is going to come about.  I explained to him that nothing about the end of the world mattered if one wasn’t in a right relationship with God.  And from there, I had the opportunity to share the Gospel with him.  I continue to pray that it took hold in his heart.

I’ve had other guys ask about different churches, and what the Bible says about this and that, and I’ve come to the conclusion that there is both a dearth of biblical knowledge and a desperate need for Christ among these students.  Granted, I already knew and believed this, but my time as a coach has reinforced this truth, and reminded me that I am both a witness of the Gospel and a messenger of this message for these young men.

4. I am blessed to be able to do something I’ve enjoyed for so long

I started wrestling when I was 7 years old.  I wrestled through high school and into college.  To have the opportunity, even now, to be in the wrestling room–teaching, practicing, and coaching–is a blessing.  I am having so much fun, and look forward to what God may do this year.


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